Graduate school applications primarily focus on grades and test scores, but letters of recommendation are required and an important part of the application process. An effective letter can make a difference when admissions is trying to decide for a potential candidate.
As an applicant, there are a few ways to ensure that a letter can be as successful as possible.
To get an excellent letter of recommendation, students should reach out to someone close to them who can provide an accurate assessment of their academic ability as well as personal skills. The person to write a letter can be a professor, dean, advisor or counselor. Someone who can highlight qualities in one’s academic pursuit and help that student stand out from dozens of other applicants.
Considering the reliance on academic professionals to write an effective letter it is best to establish relationships early on. Some simple ways to get noticed are to speak up and participate in classes, utilize office hours or take multiple classes with a liked professor. If students don’t know their professors for very long, the best way to ask them for a letter is to set them up with substantial information about their personal life and academic history.
Once deciding who could be the best advocate, it will be important to set up a time to discuss the request. It is important to note that when requesting a strong letter, there should be ample time between the request and the due date. According to the Berkeley Career Center academic professionals are often busy with other students and classes, so the best time frame would be to request at least two month prior to the deadline.
Giving ample time also allows for more communication between applicants and recommenders to let them know of goals or career aspirations. It also helps to provide them with any resumes, transcripts and related academic activities.
Overall, a letter of recommendation should be written to clearly state that the student is suited for that particular program and that they can see through the commitment.